Fall enrollment is at an all-time high at Hodges University, and the school finds the explosive growth both rewarding and challenging. The school reports its enrollment numbers rose by more than 23 percent since last fall, totaling over 2,650 students.
“The fall 2009 enrollment numbers are astounding,” said Dr. Terry McMahan, President of Hodges University. “This fall we have enrolled 1,000 new students into Hodges. This explosive growth has presented a few challenges along the way. Never in our 20-year history have we had to cut off enrollment a week early for some programs. The reality is that we have filled every classroom, and at our Fort Myers campus, we ran out of parking spaces. As a result, we have had to step up the build out of phase two parking there, and we feel that the upcoming winter term may possibly be even bigger.
“Despite these challenges, we will continue to work harder than ever to make sure we have the resources available to adequately service and maintain the quality of education for our students,” he said.
McMahan attributes the University’s growth to a number of factors. “Our record enrollment is attributed to several factors, including the recessionary economy, when students look to change careers,” he said. “As employers scale back on their hiring and job competitiveness increases, having a degree gives an individual the edge over the competition. In addition, having a degree improves the chances of keeping a job.
“Those with college degrees typically do better in a recession. Regardless of one's standing, a college degree is still highly regarded by employers.”
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national unemployment rate in August 2009 climbed to 9.7 percent, but the unemployment rate among college graduates was just over 4 percent.
Another reason for the rise in enrollment is the popularity of programs offered at Hodges. “We are seeing tremendous growth in all of our programs, but especially English as a Second Language, Allied Health, Digital Design and Computer Technology,” says Rita Lampus, Director of Enrollment Management at Hodges. “Students are finding these and other programs a good fit for their needs, which is a promising thing to see as their education will have an overall positive impact on our entire community,” she said. “Simply put, Hodges continues to fill a need for students and the community.”
Veterans who have returned from service are also finding Hodges a great fit for their academic needs. With recent changes to the GI Bill, Hodges University now takes part in the federal government’s Yellow Ribbon Program, which provides tuition and fee assistance to eligible veterans. This enables qualified veterans to attend Hodges with little to no financial burden.
“We have made a significant effort to help student veterans re-enter higher education,” said Joe Gilchrist, Vice President of Student Financial Assistance. “Our participation in the Yellow Ribbon Program helps our nation’s veterans receive a top-tier education and career-focused degrees at Hodges. Our learning culture provides the flexibility and support that can help veteran students succeed. With these funding options, achieving a degree can be a reality for many more veterans and service members.
“The stimulus funding from work force development has also been a big help for students seeking a degree here at Hodges,” he said. “With those monies available, as well as the Florida Resident Access Grant and other grants and scholarships, there are more ways than ever for degree-seeking students to finance their education.”
President McMahan feels the university is having a direct impact on the quality of life in the region and its importance will only increase as the university continues to thrive.
“Hodges University belongs to our community,” he said. “A majority of our graduates remain right here in the area, which provides an excellent and highly skilled job force for local businesses. The growth of our institution over the last several years is evidence that our programs are needed and in high demand.”